Thursday, July 7, 2011

More Catalog Power

Having the awesome power of the catalog, I today made a sweeping change to our CDs. Please fetch a refreshing beverage and settle in for the thrilling saga I am about to relate.

So the CDs are all stored behind the desk, because of fears they would just get lost up in the stacks, and for some time they'd been listed in the catalog with a special location code set aside for audio/visual materials, that prompted the helpful note "Circulation Desk" in the catalog. This way, people know not to go hunting in the stacks for CDs. Perfectly sensible.

The trouble is, this location code came with a "do not circulate" rule in the system (because, in an added bit of exciting history, the code was recycled from a now-defunct special collection that did not circulate). So about every blue moon, when someone tried to check out a CD, there was a whole process of overriding the rule, which requires a certain login level, so the student employees have to find someone who can do it, and in general it's been a rare but recurrent pain in our necks for years.

We asked the Ultimate Masters of the Catalog to change the rule, naturally, but they are busy, and despite various tearful pleas, it never happened. (Possibly we should have sent better tribute.) Now we're supposed to get a whole new catalog system next year, so you know making changes to this one is not going to be anywhere near the top of anyone's priority list.

So rather than ask again, we just reassigned all the CDs to either the circulating collection or the reference collection, switching them all to those existing location codes and circulation rules, and as far as I'm concerned we shall never use the a/v code again, because of the lingering neck pain issue.

It's all fairly straightforward, especially because we have fewer than 300 CDs anyway so it wasn't even a very large project once I got around to it.

The main demonstration of my vast power is that I co-opted the "volume" line, which appears following the call number in our catalog display (where, in a set of books, we'd say "volume one" or whatever) to say "CD at desk" so people still know where to look for them.

Technically, "at desk" is not volume information, but darn it, the people demand to know where the CDs are*, and since the a/v location code told them, while the reference and circulating collection do not, that information has to be conveyed somehow.

I contemplated putting a 590 note in the main record, but concluded that no one would see it there.

This long and terribly fascinating story is all just to say that you have to try to meet the needs of your users (and your colleagues at the circulation desk) as best you can discover those needs, even if you have to bend the catalog a little to do it.

Also, that I have the awesome power of the catalog, and I'm not afraid to use it.

However, I don't have Ultimate Master of the Catalog Power, or I would have just changed the a/v circulation rule myself, meaning I wouldn't have had to bend the catalog on the "volume" line. I think this is a pretty good argument for giving me more power.

I am totally not chortling in a sinister way right now, either.

Hahahaha! Ahem. Normal non-sinister chortle. Think nothing of it.

*At least every blue moon, when someone is interested in checking out a CD. Most of the time, I admit the people don't really care where the CDs are.


brian said...

ya know, I looked up chortling (I am a dictionary geek :-)) - is there such a thing as "sinister chortling"? If so, I do it all the time around here without a real catalog :-)

A'Llyn said...

Just put your mind to it, and you can make it sinister all right... :)

brian said...

I can make it sinister then - personally, I like library "slush funds". It would tie into the hush hush sinister theme.